The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Fay Magazine: Summer 2022

Finding Your Voice

Rob Gustavson
Head of School Rob Gustavson reflects on the 2022-2023 school-wide theme, Finding Your Voice.
Two prerequisites for reaching adulthood are knowing what we believe and deciding who we want to be. In the book The Person You Mean to Be, which Fay faculty and staff are reading this summer, social psychologist Dolly Chugh describes this process as “claiming an identity”: “In speech and action, we express how we see ourselves and how we want to be perceived by others.” Although identity claiming doesn’t stop when we become adults, it’s a central task of moving through childhood and beyond adolescence. Fundamentally, it involves learning how to express your true self—what we mean when we refer to “finding your voice,” which is the 2022-23 school theme at Fay.
Fay students come to know who they are and what they believe through reflection, inquiry, and discussion; listening to others with open-mindedness and curiosity; and developing thoughtful, informed opinions. Through writing personal essays and practicing public speaking, they learn to share their ideas with both conviction and humility, remaining open to feedback and maintaining a genuine willingness to change and grow. In her book, Chugh explains that the counterpart to identity claiming is identity granting, whereby our sense of who we are is affirmed through the way other people treat us and what they say to us. Children gain a sense of agency as they begin to see that although they can’t control what others think, they can intentionally shape their own identities by adapting what they say and do according to the feedback they receive.
It’s also important for children to recognize that they convey how they see themselves and want to be seen by others not only with their words, but through their actions. The Person You Mean to Be focuses on why all of us sometimes fall short of our image of ourselves and suggests ways we can come closer to becoming the people we envision. Striving to align our values with the way we actually live is at the heart of a lifelong quest for integrity, and ultimately, finding your voice means gaining the confidence to be your authentic self and the courage to live your beliefs—in the words of the Quaker adage, to “let your life speak.” Fay is committed to providing an environment that promotes and nurtures this essential aspect of personal development.

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